Blog entry by Alan Chapman
corner of the field
The title is apt today.
It's a line that came to me a few days ago, walking in a harrowed field, and it's almost a song now.
I just realised the additional significance.
Ploughed Heart is a song and the title of the album we made.
There is light from the dark.
It's six years since Liane hanged herself.
Technically this can be a trigger, but I believe that suicide taboos are made worse by euphemisms.
Hanging oneself is not an enjoyable thing to do.
Read Elie Wiesel's 'Night' if you want to know better what it's like.
Or talk to someone bereaved by a hanging suicide.
The Corner of the Field is about several things, including about knowing by experience.
Knowing what cannot be taught by someone else, or studied in theory.
We only really know what we have lived, and even then 'knowing' is not very reliable.
One of the songs I wrote and recorded after Liane's suicide is called 'For Ever Is It Paradise?'
Irony and a little black comedy helps grief, for me.
It's different for each of us.
'Four Minutes' is a 'hook' in the song, and was nearly the title.
It might yet be, because the song has only been recorded as a rough demo, and it might never be developed or recorded beyond this.
It's perhaps too dark to share as music.
Increasingly what I do is just for me.
I try to work increasingly mostly on myself.
As ever it's a balance.
Everything we do sends out ripples and is part of us.
I hope the time comes soon when I have peace just being very quiet and anonymous.
Just a tiny speck.
Here is an image of the songsheet.
The musical version might remain a private demo.
Life continues to be overwhelming.
I'm very lucky.
The title and 'hook' of the song came to me like a waking dream, and only some weeks or months later I discovered that four minutes seems to be relevant in some interpretations of what happens in some hangings.
I'm not an expert. Although in some ways I am.
Ask me if you want to know what it's like to touch and kiss the still warm body of someone you love who died by hanging.
It's something I can do very easily now: talk and listen about things that are quite dark.
I'm very lucky that I've become able to 'reframe' Liane's suicide, and my own suicidal experiences of the past six years, as a gift.
It's growth. It hurts. And we grow stronger, beyond imaginings.
We can stand in the fire so that we become the fire.
And so by living through traumas, is how we become strong, so that what once hurt us so powerfully, we can easily withstand, and show this to others.
That there is a point to the pain.
And what you find, beyond the corner of the field, is that you can love yourself, as we all are born to do.
Ploughed Heart was originally some poetry in Liane's notebook, in which she kept private secret thoughts about life and death, especially arising from the death of her daughter Ella, age eleven, in January 2009.
Ella died from an aggressive bone cancer that especially kills children, and Liane blamed herself for the cancer's development, and also for not noticing the lump on her leg until it was pointed out by one of Ella's friends.
This sort of mistaken guilt kills people, and it certainly helped to kill Liane.
Liane's suicide nearly killed me.
That's how suicide works.
While my disintegration began when I was born, in September 1957, I began to fall apart catastrophically in 2007.
My ex-wife found a new partner, and the marriage that we'd held together since 1981 turned into a divorce that would last ten years.
Many marriages can be repaired if there's a joint determination, but here there was not.
My ex-wife was reborn and happy and I was happy for her, although I was lost in ways that took me years to understand.
I'm grateful now that she had the courage to follow her heart, because otherwise I'd have stayed stuck for ever.
I'm a very simple man, unable to enjoy sharing what many married couples seem to do.
I'm the oldest son of three brothers, and oldest cousin.
I was raised to take responsibility.
With no sisters, and all-boys schooling from age 10, my prior growing confidence and ease among girls was soon replaced by a naivety, awe and ineptitude that is part of my personality.
I'm happy now being who I am.
I learned very recently that I've been destroying myself.
And while I'm strong enough to have withstood and grown via several decades of self-sacrifice and the self-destruction that this causes, eventually I learned that living a self-sacrificial and self-destructive life can kill anyone, prematurely, who chooses to live this way.
For nearly all my life I have not actually known who or what I am.
And what I believed about myself was very wrong.
It was not 'me'.
I was an artificial adopted 'me' that had been conditioned from the moment I was born.
Perhaps Liane was striving for this rebirth for herself.
I believe so.
Liane was actually a victim of economic austerity as much as her own self-loathing and guilt.
In my opinion Liane was re-emerging reborn in 2014, the best I'd ever known her.
She came off her anti-depressant medication, and summer 2014 she glowed and sang and danced as she was born to do.
Government austerity after the 2008/9 global financial collapse was extreme.
Liane had always worked in the charity and social services sector, and very brilliant she was too in her various fields.
I remember the conversation with Liane in March 2015, when she was a ghostly shell, like I would become.
"I know I am sabotaging this," she said, as she phoned to pull out of her first self-employment contract as a Forest Schools teacher, that she'd fought for and worked so hard to win.
This was part of the end, playing out, that I did not understand. Nobody did.
Because some suicidal people keep the most deathly dangerous secrets.
And they often seem to 'get better' after making the decision to act on the plan they've made.
And this is why asking someone if they have a plan is important when and if you discuss suicide with someone suicidal.
A vibrant healthy human ravaged to a state worse than death.
Stop the pain.
Stop the life that's worse than death.
To the corner of the field.
Where there seems no exit.
Where we face a truth.
Where we look inward.
And we no longer see anything else, except what we tell ourselves.
Perhaps the point of Liane's sacrifice - you see, like many suicidal people she believed she was a failure and a burden on everyone - was so that I could share some of her story.
Please love yourself.
You are beautiful.